An Important Note To Students And Teachers
There is an all to common tendency among Christians (1) to disregard motives in obedience by (2) magnifying obedient acts in an attempt to obligate God. Too many think 'why' a person obeys is unimportant as long as he or she does "what he or she is supposed to do."
For example, in this concept, it does not matter 'why' a person is baptized as long as the correct words are said and the baptism is by immersion. It may or may not be an immersion that occurs because of the person's faith in Jesus as God's Christ. Too many consider faith to be relatively unimportant. However, baptism is essential! It must be accompanied by the right words! It must be by immersion!
This illustration absolutely is not intended to minimize the importance of being immersed into Christ. It is merely intended to illustrate how in obedient acts (1) we can separate the act from the motive and (2) declare the act is all important while the motive is unimportant. There are two basic problems with this view. (1) It is a concept of obedience unknown and untaught in the Bible. (2) It declares motives are insignificant if the act is proper.
This approach to obeying God reduces obedience to a mathematical formula that can be used in an effort to obligate God. The sovereign God cannot be obligated by a human deed or deeds. Just as it is with us humans, so it is with God. Why we do something is an important part of what we do.
Salvation cannot be reduced to a formula! The concept is not:
a + b + c + d = salvation
Faith in Jesus Christ [trusting him] is not a formula! Repentance [redirecting life] is not a formula! The fact that baptism occurs means nothing if the act is not the result of a faith which is committed to a redirection of life!
For a Christian, obedience is expressed in lifestyle choices and behavior choices that result in a lifetime commitment! It will be a journey of joy rather than a burdensome obligation only if obedience is occurs because of one's motives rather than out of terror in an effort to obligate God.
Once a person came to me saying, "I am an agnostic. I do not know if God exists or not. However, I have studied Acts enough to know baptism is expected. Would you baptize me in case there is a God so I will be safe when I die?" That is the only time (yet) I refused to baptize an adult who requested baptism. Why? The person had no faith. His motive for wanting to be baptized (1) did not come from trusting the God who sent Jesus or (2) the desire to live a redirected life. Aside from selfishly obligating God [if He existed] to escape a possible terror, the person had no motive. [Later, after further study elsewhere, the person believed and was baptized. The result was a life of commitment and service to God.]
Becoming a Christian is not merely a matter of complying with the proper acts. It is the desire to redirect one's life because he or she places confidence in the resurrected Jesus.
This series of lessons is designed to challenge the Christian to understand the importance of his or her motives as he or she seeks to live a Christian life that is obedient to Jesus Christ.
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